If only I could find people who understood

There’s no need to soldier on alone with your reactive dog! You can find friends from all over the world who understand and can help you in your journey | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogbehavior, #anxiousdog, #overfriendlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

The loneliness of the Growly Dog owner

It can be a lonely road, owning a Growly Dog.

That is, a dog who is anxious, reactive, or aggressive. A dog you’re never quite sure of. One minute he seems fine, and the next minute he’s on his hind legs shrieking blue murder at another dog … or a child on a scooter … or a plastic sack that shouldn’t be there.

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

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It can be exhausting, coping with these outbursts, and perhaps wondering why, when you know what a lovely dog he is at home.

If only the people who are staring at you now, causing you to feel embarrassed and useless while your dog makes a holy show of you, could see what a charmer your dog really is, what a lovely companion at home, how well he plays with the children.

But you can find people who understand!

You’ve found one right here, in me! For I have travelled this road too, and I’ve run through all the same emotions as you do - on a daily basis.

There’s no need to soldier on alone with your reactive dog! You can find friends from all over the world who understand and can help you in your journey | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogbehavior, #anxiousdog, #overfriendlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Life with my Growly Dog Lacy has been an adventure, a huge learning curve, and a joy. I’ve seen my reactive dog who would leap out threatening to grab passers-by, who would terrorise other dogs in the park, who would bark as if the world were ending at a knock at the door, turn into a reliable companion, a co-conspirator who travels through life with me, with such a deep understanding of how best to respond to the things that used to send her into a tailspin.

And now I’ve arrived at this happy state with my tricky dog, I want to help you with your tricky dog!

You may have seen already the large number of articles for Growly Dogs here on this site. There are also the Growly Dog Books, a free email course, aaaaaaand …. a major help for you, the Growly Dog owner, in From Growly Dog to Confident Dog, an extensive, far-reaching, program to take you from your present state of hiding behind bushes and dreading walks, to the confidence you will have when you understand just how your Growly Dog ticks, why he does what he does, and - most importantly! - how you can help him adjust to our strange world and enjoy life with you.

What you may not realise is that once you join From Growly Dog to Confident Dog you are automatically part of an active forum of your fellow-students, who report their successes, their not-so-successes, and their queries. And you also get continual coaching from me there.

This alone is a terrific help to people in their daily challenges “at the walkface”. To know that you have backup, cheerleaders, and the understanding that only another owner of a Growly Dog can really have.

For it is so, that no-one who has not had a reactive, anxious, worrypot of a dog, can truly understand and relate to those of us who are blessed with such a creature.

It’s what makes possible the changes that you’ll learn in the program. To learn how others are managing, and to know that you are amongst friends - that’s what sets this apart.

Maybe you’ve just found your home?

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

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My Growly Dog can’t change

There are lots of kind, dog-friendly, methods to teach your dog he doesn’t have to be afraid of everyone and everything | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #anxiousdog, #overfriendlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Really?

Why do you think that?

Is it because you’ve tried things in the past and they haven’t worked?

Have you thought that perhaps the things you tried were ineffectual, and it wasn’t the fault of you or your dog. They were doomed never to work because they didn’t take account of the scientific knowledge we have now about how the dog’s mind works.

There are still plenty of people about who want to beat bad behaviour out of a dog. And sadly, many of these are masquerading as your local friendly trainer. This underlines the importance of choosing your trainer from a reliable umbrella organisation who promote force-free training and constant study and upgrading of the skills of their members. There are some links below for you to hunt through.

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

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You owe it to your dog (and to yourself!) to change things so that walks are no longer miserable, visitors may be allowed to visit, and every sound doesn’t have to be woofed at. 

So what if you found the thing that really made a change for you? 

Would you be willing to give it a try

“I failed my way to success” Thomas Edison

You see, I find that once people have tried something and it didn’t work, they want to give up. To hide their disappointment, to cover up the fact that they thought they’d failed.

To avoid the pain of that failure, which they think is now inevitable.

But in fact, the people who succeed are the ones who keep going - they fall, they get up, and they try again.

A baby falls many times when learning to walk. Does he give up? Of course not! He just keeps going till he masters this one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing,

How many stories have you read of … business moguls, sports stars, artists … who failed dismally, were doubtless told by their friends and families that they should just pack it in, that it was all a waste of time, that they’d never make it?

But they just KEPT GOING?  

When challenged to give up this daft idea about electric light after 10,000 failed attempts, Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

So you can most certainly help your dog to change, and transform life for the both of you!

  • No more hiding behind hedges when you see someone coming.

  • No more barricading your home from visitors as if it’s Fort Knox.

  • No more “I need to take the dog for a walk but I can’t face it.”

You just need to find a method that is kind to your dog, is not onerous for you, and that works! 

I want to show you just what is possible for you and your dog. And I know it’s possible because of what I’ve achieved with my own dogs and the thousands of dogs I have helped. 

Make a start with this email course which gives you a springboard to understanding why your dog does what he does, and therefore how you can start the change.

And check out the many articles for Growly Dogs here on this site. You have found someone who can help you! Don’t lose sight of that. 

News will be coming soon of some exciting developments for helping you and your Growly Dog. Keep an eye out!

Why can’t I take my dog to the fair?

Here are some thoughts on how to enjoy an outing with your dog, just as you planned when you got your dog! | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #anxiousdog, #overfriendlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Well … maybe you can. Maybe you have a bombproof dog who loves everyone and likes nothing more than all the busyness, noise, and goings-on at your local summer fete.

Then again, maybe your dog is like most dogs, and finds traipsing round a hot and busy fairground, on a short lead, with children screaming, people laughing, smells of burgers, spilt chips in the grass you won’t let him eat, loudspeakers blaring - a complete nightmare.

You can’t put him back in the car as it’s way too hot. So your unhappy dog is stuck with this for as long as you choose to stay at the event. Hot, bothered, fed up.

Now this is where you’ll send me a photo of your dog on your last outing, quietly standing beside you. All the more surprising to you because your dog is usually wary of strangers and other dogs, and seemed to be “absolutely fine” in the midst of thousands of them.

“He’s fine!” you’ll assure me.

But it’s very likely that this change in behaviour was not down to him “being fine”, rather that he’s “shut down”. This is a coping mechanism we all employ when overwhelmed.

We become subdued, we stay quiet, make ourselves small. We hope not to be noticed, spoken to, or challenged.

It’s a form of learned helplessness.

We know that nothing we do will change the situation, so we give up. Surrender to our fate. But it doesn’t mean we’re enjoying it!

Your dog, as I so often say, is the exact same. He finds himself in a situation he can’t handle. With hundreds of people, children, dogs, in close proximity, he knows he can’t employ his usual methods of requesting space - barking, lunging, screaming, snarling - which work like a charm at removing the approaching thing from their path, or getting themselves removed by an embarrassed owner.

Watch and wait

Put some planning into place when you are visiting an exciting event with your dog, so that it goes as smoothly as you planned when you first got him! | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #anxiousdog, #overfriendlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Some dogs will be much happier out of the thick of things, on the sidelines where they can safely observe what’s in front of them without having to scan the full 360° (see there’s nothing behind this puppy in the picture - she only needs to check in front of her).

He will also appreciate you watching how he is (soft mouth, soft ears and shoulders, no gasping panting, head not dropped, no twitchiness or slinking about) and removing him from the situation after maybe as little as three minutes. And yes, you can’t plonk him in the hot car or you’ll have a worse problem! Take him home.

You may be surprised that even your very friendly dog finds a busy outing a bit too much. Continually being restrained from jumping all over a thousand new friends who must want to meet him, will wear him out!

If you’re planning on visiting a big event, put your dog in training for the occasion. You can start with a walk past the local shops, sitting at the other end of a school road at school-out time, a shopping centre car park on a quiet day, a busier day, a Saturday …

Don’t plunge him into a new and strange environment, which could cause him distress, without finding out beforehand how he’s going to manage.

Then you can amend your plans accordingly. We can enjoy our family outings, but we don’t necessarily need to take our dog.

Here are some more articles which will help you understand just what’s going on with your dog when you’re out and about:

How to get calmer dogwalks

How heat can affect your dog’s coping skills

How to plan a successful day out with your dog

Need more help understanding your Growly Dog? Get this free e-course

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How Lacy helps other dogs

Learning how my reactive dog thought made all the difference to how she acted. The relationship blossomed and our lives changed | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

This article was first published on 4knines.com and is reprinted here with permission.

Even as a young puppy Lacylu scared people. They would cling to each other and cross the road when they saw her coming.

She looked like a brown bear cub. In no way was she a petite or cute pup, though she did have a very pretty face – still does.

But it was clear from very early on that she was going to struggle in an urban world, full of people, other dogs, things that go bang in the night …

As she matured Lulubelle became more, not less, difficult. She reckoned that she needed to protect the 3,000 acres around us, starting at my feet. Anyone or anything that hove into view prompted ferocious barking - and if she was able she would chase them away.

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

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I know just what it’s like to be a pariah. I’ve had the wrath of ignorant people rain down on me when my dog has barked and lunged toward them. If only they could understand what a gentle and loving dog she really is!

And this is where my lessons began

I’d been training dogs for competition for many years, and after lots of study, I had opened my dog training school the year before, at an age when many people are slowing down and switching off – not studying, sitting exams, learning about SEO, public indemnity insurance, and payment systems!

So Lulu arrived at a very good time for me (and, I think, for her).

I started learning about fearful dogs, anxious dogs, aggressive dogs, Growly Dogs; guardy dogs, nervous dogs, barky dogs (Lacy loves to bark); people’s fears, people’s reactions, people’s emotions.

Learning how my reactive dog thought made all the difference to how she acted. The relationship blossomed and our lives changed | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I was voracious – all the available methods were scrutinised and run past my personal ethos. Many were dismissed out of hand as being harsh or even cruel. Some were hard to assimilate into everyday life. Some were ineffectual. Finally I found the best of the best and focused my energies on developing my skills there, and building my own system.

  • I learnt why anxious dogs behave as they do

  • I learnt kind techniques that put a worried dog at ease – CLUE: the first step is always distance!

  • I learnt how to keep people away without causing them to panic

  • And – most important – I learnt how to help other people with their “growly” dogs

Lacy’s now able to look at a strange person or dog and move on. She logs their position carefully, just in case they should try anything … but she can pass them peacefully. (She’s never bitten anyone.)

My fluffy bear cub has come so far in a few years – and is helping others like her to gain confidence and give their owners at the other end of the lead a bit of peace. Both dog and owner learn new coping skills together.

Helping my dog get over her fears has led to a better life for so many more dogs!

Once the poor harassed owners learn that their much-loved dog is not nasty or vicious a new life opens up before them.

It certainly did for me!

 

Your first step towards your new life with your growly dog is in this free e-course

     

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My dog knows he's done wrong

Dogs don’t do things for no reason - learn their language! | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppytraining, #dogbodylanguage | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

No he doesn’t!

He has no idea!

All he knows is that you are cross and he has not got a clue why!

So he runs through a series of appeasing behaviours to show that he’s no threat. This may include lowered head, looking away, lowered body posture, creeping, slinking away, screwing up his eyes and grinning, licking his lips, yawning, walking in slow motion silently, licking you, jumping on you, nudging you, burying his head in you. A young puppy can even lose bladder or bowel control in his distress.

All the while you are wagging your finger, shouting or yelling - or worse (as anyone who had a vicious headmistress like I did will know!) going very, very, still and quiet and saying “What. Do. You. Think. You’re. Doing?”

He doesn’t know. Really. He’s a dog.

Dog Body Language

More commonsense tips to be found in this free 8-lesson email course to get you started with your dog

     

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Dogs express themselves largely through their body language. While most people see nothing - just a dog - it’s in fact a sophisticated language which is very clear, once you learn it.

As a dog-owner it’s your duty to learn Dog Body Language!

You wouldn’t adopt a child from another country and refuse to listen to anything she said until she could express herself fluently in your language. It’s such nonsense when you look at it like that!

So know that you have to observe your dog, look out for every ear-twitch, every sideways glance - what’s his head doing? what’s his movement telling me?

There are some good resources online for learning these movements. Here’s a good one from the amazing artist Lili Chin, of the Body Language of Fear in Dogs

Dogs don’t “look guilty” - learn their language and communicate better with your pet!  | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppytraining, #dogbodylanguage | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Do you recognise some of these from your own dog? Start looking! You’ll see them all, in time …

So why does he look so “guilty”?

All this is telling you that telling your dog off and assuming that because he slinks or cowers or looks away, he understands what you’re on about, is mistaken! (That’s polite-speak for WRONG!)

Dogs don’t “look guilty”, or “know they’ve done wrong”. Something a few correspondents have been trying to tell me this week.

Those awful videos that get circulated online - of dogs “looking guilty” - are horrible. Anyone who actually understands dogs knows that the dog is deeply unhappy and distressed by the hostility her owner is demonstrating. Having no idea of the cause, all she can do is grovel. Setting these situations up and videoing them is cruelty, no less.

What can you do instead when something you don’t like has happened?

The first thing to do is to look at why the thing happened. And very often you’ll find the finger is pointing at … yourself!

Dogs don’t “look guilty” - learn their language and communicate better with your pet!  | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppytraining, #dogbodylanguage | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

◆   Who left the dog alone with the kitchen waste bin?

◆   Who left the door open so that your curious dog went out through it?

◆   Who failed to follow a force-free housetraining program and now has a confused dog who doesn’t know where to relieve herself?

◆   Who left valuable yet chewable items within reach of a puppy who has as yet no boundaries?

So if you come home to find a mess, just clear it up quietly, while resolving to change your own habits so that it can’t happen again.

Our dogs have it hard enough living in our strange world without being told off for breaking rules they didn’t know existed! If you follow this path, you’ll have a hard time ever gaining her trust.

My dog knows when he's done wrong

 

Fluffy Puppy turned into a snarking monster? 5 steps to enjoying walking your dog again

This article was first published on 4knines.com and is reprinted here with permission.

Pins Maxx Payne.pngCan you enjoy walks with your reactive dog again? Change some of the things you’re doing and see the change in your dog! | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #anxiousdog, #fearfuldog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

That sweet pup who at a couple of months old was so adorable that you wanted to show her off to everyone, has gained half a year and grown horns!

She barks and lunges at every dog or person she sees – and you wouldn’t want anyone to see your dog now … So you only walk her at The Hour of the Difficult Dog. You’re embarrassed. Confused. What have you done wrong?

What she’s showing is a fear reaction which can appear in adolescence.

It may have resulted from not meeting enough dogs and people in her first few weeks with you; it may be that some time another dog or person gave your pup a fright; it could just be that she’s cautious and fearful by nature.

It’s not wrong or bad – it’s just the way she is. And you still love her to bits!

So how can you improve this and get your fluffpup back again?

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

     

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1. Understand

Your dog is not aggressive or nasty - she’s afraid. The reason she’s barking and lepping about on the lead when she sees another dog or person or bike is that she’s trying to keep them away! Quite often this apparently aggressive display will do the trick, and either the other walker heads off, or you drag your dog away in embarrassment and confusion. Once she’s upset and the hormones are flying around her body, she’ll be quicker to react to the next frightening thing she sees.

2. Make Distance

If your child had a fear of spiders you wouldn’t keep confronting him with the wiggly beasties. So, for the time being, avoid confrontations with other dogs. Walk where you won’t have dogs “in your face”. Turn and go the other direction when a dog is walking towards you along the street. Just knowing that she never has to meet another dog or person will take a lot of the pressure off your dog and allow her to keep calm.

 

3. Get rid of any gadgets or collars that hurt her

It stands to reason that if, every time you saw a red van someone choked you with a prong or chain collar or – worse still – gave you an electric shock, you would soon get very anxious about red vans. You would try to get away from them, and if you saw one coming you’d probably start to scream in fear of the anticipated pain. So ditch all those things that people tell you are the answer, and just have your dog on a comfortable, soft, flat collar and a good length lead so she can move freely.

 

It’s not the dog that has to change! Change your own mindset and change your dog!  | FREE EMAIL COURSE |  #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #anxiousdog, #fearfuldog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

4. Change her Perception of Dogs and People

Before you set out on your walk, load your pockets with tasty treats that you know your dog will sell her soul for. Tiny cubes of cheese or hot dog will do the trick, or high-quality grain-free treats may work. Every time you see something coming, pause - and post treats into your dog’s mouth as she watches them. Treat, treat, treat … very fast. Be sure you keep beyond the distance at which she usually gets worried. Stop feeding once the hazard has gone away. If you are consistent with this, she’ll soon see a strange dog or person, turn to you and say, “Where’s my treat?” Result!

 

5. Still afraid your dog may bite?

You need to find a certified force-free trainer who understands how to help fearful dogs. Be aware that using any sort of force or punishment in this situation will make things worse. If your dog has already bitten or you’re really afraid she will, you can acclimatise your dog gently to a basket muzzle. Use the system at no.4 above so that she is delighted at the sight of her muzzle. The muzzle has the added benefit of keeping people and their dogs at a distance – just what you want for now!

Follow Steps 1 – 4 above and you’ll start to build your dog’s confidence and be able to enjoy your walks again.

 

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

     

  THIS FREE ECOURSE IS A BONUS FOR YOU WHEN YOU SIGN UP TO RECEIVE EDUCATIONAL EMAILS AND OCCASIONAL OFFERS FROM ME. YOU CAN UNSUBSCRIBE AT ANY TIME.
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